AL­LAN ZE­MAN

Hong Kong Tatler - - Features -

Al­lan Ze­man is founder and chair­man of the Lan Kwai Fong Group. He holds var­i­ous board po­si­tions at numer­ous com­pa­nies listed on the HK Stock Ex­change and also con­trib­utes a large amount of time to gov­ern­ment ser­vices. Al­lan has lived in Hong Kong for 45 years and has been a holder of Chi­nese Na­tion­al­ity since 2008.

The nightlife in Lan Kwai Fong is as vi­brant as ever but nowa­days there is so much more va­ri­ety.

In the early days, the scene was dom­i­nated by three clubs, which were all fa­mous. The orig­i­nal was Disco Disco, fol­lowed by Club 97 and then Cal­i­for­nia. Many young peo­ple who came to party went on to be­come movie stars and singers. We had lots of themed par­ties and the DJ was never the most im­por­tant thing. To­day, the crowds are of a sim­i­lar size as in the old days but more of them are lo­cal Chi­nese, and many more big-name DJS come to per­form. In the past 20 years the bar scene has also di­ver­si­fied and ex­panded hugely—from Tiki lounges to Vic­to­rian speakeasies, the va­ri­ety is amaz­ing.

Back in the day, the only good restau­rants and bars were in the ho­tels.

You had to wear a tie and jacket to get in. I was in the fash­ion in­dus­try and I had de­sign­ers and buy­ers com­ing to visit—and now they don’t even wear socks, let alone a tie and jacket. I thought, New York has Soho and Lon­don has the West End, why can’t Hong Kong have some­thing sim­i­lar? That’s when I de­cided to open the restau­rant Cal­i­for­nia in Lan Kwai Fong.

The ma­jor de­vel­op­ment in the din­ing scene in the past 20 years is the use of tech­nol­ogy.

In the old days, peo­ple picked a restau­rant based on word of mouth; nowa­days peo­ple’s din­ing be­hav­iour is re­ally in­flu­enced by the in­ter­net and on­line re­views. The in­flu­ence of tech­nol­ogy on din­ing and en­ter­tain­ment ex­pe­ri­ences will only in­crease over the next 20 years. Soon your meal will be se­lected for you us­ing AI, and will be served to you by a ro­bot and paid for on your phone.

The restau­ra­teurs and bar own­ers are more in­ter­na­tional nowa­days

and the surge of Euro­pean chefs over the past 20 years has re­ally el­e­vated the din­ing scene—from Richard Ekke­bus open­ing Am­ber 12 years ago, to Um­berto Bom­bana in­tro­duc­ing world-class Ital­ian cui­sine with 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo, and Ja­son Ather­ton and Yenn Wong cre­at­ing a culi­nary splash with the open­ing of 22 Ships, Ham & Sherry, and Aberdeen Street So­cial.

In the next 20 years, Hong Kong should be a smart city

that not only at­tracts young tal­ent but also at­tracts some of the bright minds and com­pa­nies in the world. Shen­zhen has be­come a tech­nol­ogy hub of China; why not Hong Kong? As a city, we will achieve strength by be­com­ing a part of the Greater Bay Area, which will help the in­te­gra­tion of China and Hong Kong. The new bridge to Ma­cau and Zhuhai and the high-speed railway from Guangzhou to Hong Kong will also tremen­dously help to ad­vance in­te­gra­tion in the re­gion.

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